In a World of Sameness change your perspective
"His design and building principles define his work, and challenge perceptions of what a modern custom ukulele can be.
Composed, confident, artistic, and unique, Mark's instruments set new standards for this next age of contemporary ukuleles.
"Mark is Da Man! He will be the next Charles Fox."
Eric Devine / Devine Guitars & Ukuleles
“If you’re looking for a gorgeous ukulele with a wonderful sound,
Mark Roberts handcrafts some of the most beautiful ukuleles out there.
He incorporates unique designs into his build philosophy that is both elegant and functional. If you’re looking for something special in the uke world you’ve come to the right place!”"
Shawn Yacavone / Ukulele Friend
"For the past 15-20 years, I've not "owned" any ukulele, instead playing as many ukuleles made by luthiers commonly acknowledged to be the best in the world. The education for me has been phenomenal. I use this education to pass on to builders and players alike what I think is Mark Roberts' best contribution to building ukulele: a wonderful and BALANCED approach in blending his own talents and creativity with the latest "science and technology" applicable to building QUALITY instruments.
For builders and players alike, what this balance does is to maximize a resulting balance in the instrument's LOOKS, PLAYABILITY and SOUND!!!!!! I have learned this by playing several of Mark's instruments and being able to compare his work with ukulele's best builders.
His work is too good to pass up!!!!!!!!!
Even better than his instruments --------- he's a great friend!!!!!!!!"
"Mark Roberts is more than a luthier. He is a creative, a designer, an artist, and a student of acoustics. His skill in each area is revealed in the exceptional detail applied to his ukuleles. Speak with him and you'll appreciate his knowledge and passion for the merging of form and function. Mark's appreciation and respect for Nature and science informs his creations, inevitably enhancing the player's experience.
The neck and compound radius fretboard make the instrument a joy to play. It is pitch perfect up and down the fretboard. Where the ukulele really shines is in the balanced tonal range perfect for jazz and exploiting a musician's use of dynamics. The design features pay off in ample volume and wonderful lingering sustain. You can tell this was built to breathe and vibrate. You can feel it in your hands and through your chest, improving the musical and emotional connection between musician and instrument.
This is one of the best musical instruments I've ever had the pleasure to play. I'm lucky to have found it and Mark's work."
I was looking for the next step in my lifelong quest to learn the Bach Cello Suites, which began in High School when I still studied the cello. So I did some online research and began a series of discussions with Mark about the possibilities.
He among the luthiers I consulted seemed most intrigued by my plans and made a number of excellent suggestions, mostly in the service of improved sustain (when you’re trying to emulate a bowed instrument you cannot have too much of that).
At every stage of the design I felt included and learned a lot about fretted instruments in general. And found a kindred spirit who didn’t find endless discussions about strings, equal temperament, and the sacredness of good wood to be boring.
Anna, the instrument (named for Bach’s 2nd wife) has become the heart of my project. A joy to listen to, sustain and resonance beautiful on slow passages, clarity and ease on fast ones. In short, I feel very fortunate to have run into the best luthier for my project and can unreservedly recommend Mark’s ukuleles for whatever your own plans may include.
Mark Turnbull / Pau France
"This was a "love at first pluck" experience for me. I am still struck by a feeling of clarity, brightness and richness of the tone. The instrument is light in the hands and vibrates with life. I could feel it ... it was talking to me through my hands; not just through my ears."
Kenneth Fowler / Houston, TX
"Working out of his Oregon workshop, Mark is really making waves in the uke world for his unique styling and attention to detail."
Guitar Bench Magazine
"A Uke and a Smile
Coca-Cola commissions a one-of-a-kind ukulele for Warren Buffett."
Superb tone and playability
Superior craftsmanship, shaping a deep resonance from flawless intonation, allowing each note to bloom. Blurring distinctions of what the modern bespoke instrument can be.
Mark Roberts has maintained a lifelong passion about creativity and understanding the nature, patterns, and systems of the world around us.
An extensive background in all disciplines of fine art, industrial product design, and furniture design have uniquely crafted his approach to design and craft fine instruments.
Mark's experience as an product designer and his beneficial study under Charles Fox, and numerous other gifted luthiers, have uniquely positioned his contemporary sensibilities to design and approach to building.
"A misconception about good designers is that we create beauty.
I believe we should strive to create intelligence - and if we succeed,
beauty will appear.
I like to produce art that resonates with all of the senses, and share
it with all who care about it everyday."
"My pursuit of lutherie, like industrial design, furniture design, and art
is partially the intimacy of our relationship with objects we use on a
daily basis. Instruments, like furniture, are somewhat compromised,
but the desire to try and produce something that's free from that compromise is endlessly exciting. I love the concept that instrument design and construction uses all my capacity, from my physical ability for actually making, and the whole relationship of choosing a specific piece of wood, that once stood in a woodland, to actually seeing that instrument being used, and years later seeing how that piece has blossomed in use. If we want trees in the landscape, we should give
them life beyond their own."
With respect of tradition and love for modern aesthetics, Mark continues this evolution asking the right questions, with clear artistic vision, innovative technology and meticulous attention to details using the world’s finest tonewoods maintaining a keen focus on evolving the instruments.
Museum of Contemporary Craft, exhibitor
Oregon Art Beat Television, Oregon Public Broadcasting featured artist
Guild of American Luthiers, member/author
Design BOOM Magazine, featured article
American Lutherie Magazine, author
Guitar Maker Magazine, author
Guitar Bench Magazine, featured article
Ukulele Magazine, featured article
Ukulele Rhythms Magazine, featured luthier article
The Luthierist Podcast, featured luthier episode
NW Handmade Musical Instrument Exhibit, exhibitor
Santa Barbara Acoustic Instrument Celebration, exhibitor
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, "History of the Guitar" exhibitor
Guild of Oregon Woodworkers, Best of Show Annual Competition
Portland Public Library Exhibit, exhibitor
Portland International Airport, Oregon Luthiers Exhibit, organizer/exhibitor
Portland Luthiers Gatherings, organizer (2011- )
With an ever growing list of clients around the world, Mark is focused on evolving his designs and craftsmanship into museum quality instruments, destine to be heirlooms for generations.
"For my sensibilities, I greatly limit decoration on my instruments. Decoration never adds a new tone, it never improves the bloom of a note, or the sustain.
It never makes the instrument play better…and it never makes the player reach to become equal to the capability of the instrument. It’s a distraction."
"I would rather leave a finish as close to revealing the natural characteristics of the material as possible, to meditate and revel on the life and condition of an individual woods character, than an artificial mirror like surface of some finishes."
If you think what goes on inside an instrument is just as important as what it looks like on the outside, we should talk.